Like Minds Autumn 2010

Advertising, Blogging, Business, Design, Devon, Entrepreneur, Like Minds, London, Social Media, Twitter, WebTV

We can’t quite believe it’s a year on from the first Like Minds conference. So much has happened from our small beginnings on October 16th 2009 in the Exeter Conference Centre.

Back then (or back-along as they say down here) we held a half-day conference with 200 attendees and now, on October 28/29th we are expecting between 300-400 attendees over two full days of learning, engaging, networking and generating new business opportunities.

Clearly Scott and I could not have achieved all this without a great deal of help and our heartfelt thanks go to all the people who have really pulled together to make this all happen. From our early supporters who flew over to speak at our first conference like Trey Pennington (@TreyPennington) and Olivier Blanchard (@TheBrandBuilder) from the United States to the Head of Social Media for Sky TV, Maz Nadjm (@Mazi) and Ex-Director of Innovation & New Media at the BBC Media Trust, Daren Forsyth (@DarenBBC) who took a chance and broke free from the bright lights of London to come and speak at an unknown conference hidden away in the depths of the rural South-West.

Today it’s a different story. At our last conference in February you helped us bring over £100,000 of revenue to the city of Exeter and its community of small businesses. No small achievement I’m sure you’ll agree and we expect to increase the revenue this time around to around £200,000. We had speakers and sponsors from Ogilvy Worldwide, Kodak, 1000 Heads, Nokia and our TV platform provider Ooyala in February and we are building on that platform this October with speakers and sponsors from Microsoft, Smarta, Grapple, WCRS and many more.

We’ll have 5 morning workshop Immersives, 20 Like Minds lunches, 4 afternoon keynote Insights each day. All followed by some special evening events – on Thursday 28th there is Like Movies with legendary film maker and Clash collaborator Don Letts, at the Exeter Picturehouse, and on Friday 29th we have Like Music – a 15 band 4 venue live music event being filmed for TV broadcast headlined by Finley Quaye.

John Harvey (@ExeterCCM) and Val Wilson at Exeter City Council have been tireless in their support and enthusiasm and Dave Goodchild and Pippa Wragg at The Cavern have rallied the local music venues along with support from Pat at The Phoenix, Adam at Mama Stones and Garth from Timepiece who’ve helped build a movie and music program that will complete the full schedule we have lined up over the two days.

There are also many other people behind the scenes who help make your stay with us a special one. The team at the Exeter Conference Centre, Jason Tucker and Rachel Prouse in Exeter, our wonderful ‘girl about town’ Gina Decio who also helps run the Like Minds Club in London and of course our interns who keep everything running smoothly, under the watchful eye of the inimitable Faye Gould. All of them help to create such a special atmosphere on the day.

We hope you enjoy the next few days as much as we have had Creating + Curating it all. Don’t forget to tell us what you get out of it all either be it on Twitter or your particular blogging platform as we can only improve on things with your feedback. Remember to Listen, Lean, Engage and above all – work hard and be nice to people!

See you there.

http://wearelikeminds/autumn2010-program

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Like Minds. One amazing day.

Blogging, Business, Devon, Entrepreneur, Like Minds, Micro Blogging, New Media, Social Media, Twitter, WebTV

It’s an incredible feeling when you witness the birth of something. There is a palpable, almost magical force in the air. There is an underlying knowledge that what you have just experienced will only increase in value to you over time.

At a time when most, if not all of us, are facing challenges in their life and work it was an incredible feeling to watch a room fill with complete strangers who had a thirst for knowledge and the belief and faith to come and be an active part of something new and exciting. They really created what became a very special day.

What amazed me about the Like Minds event in Exeter on Friday wasn’t so much the great content from the speakers and the seamless event hosting and management from Scott Gould and the Exeter Conference Centre but the people who came to share it all with us.

Trey Pennington, one of our keynote speakers, mentioned the words ‘trust’ and ‘faith’ to me over breakfast the next day in Exeter city centre. He was spot on. Both Trey and Olivier Blanchard took a huge leap of faith to get on a plane and fly over from Greenville, South Carolina to be with us and prepare such incisive presentations.

Daren Forsyth and Maz Madjm, despite only knowing me from various London Tweetups, had the trust and faith to take the time out of their schedules and home lives, prepare presentations and travel down to help create such a valuable and magical day. Thanks also must go to all our panelists; Vanessa Warwick, Rick Waghorn, Matt Waring, James Barasic, Carl Haggerty, Laura Whithead, and Andrew Davies who provided such a stimulating discussion after each keynote. If you couldn’t make it down, do take the time to watch them all here.

Also take a moment to check out the feedback at the hashtag #LikeMinds on Twitter as well. The outpouring of love (and man love!) has been inspiring. It was also a great moment to see Stephen Fry say hello on the Twitterfall behind the stage – thank you Stephen! You can read my blog on his London Applestore event here.

Our sponsors, both local and national, also had the faith and trust to buy into our vision, at a point when even WE didn’t know exactly what the day was going to bring! For that we are deeply grateful because without that financial support the idea could have just as easily dissolved. I hope they all feel that they too have got a return on their investment and we look forward to inviting them back to our next event in February.

So it’s seems to me that the fundamentals of social media are about faith and trust. We increasingly ‘meet’ people through social networks, blogs and online communities long before we get to know them in real life and we have to take a leap of faith and trust that they are, who and what they say they are.

Scott Gould and I connected on Twitter around six months before we actually met. In the ensuing two months or so we discussed the idea of creating a brand and holding an inaugural event in Exeter that aimed to bring the level of quality you would expect for an event in a capital city like London but brought to more local communities. I spend my working week between the two cities and can see the parallels and the disparities and feel very passionately that Exeter needs stronger creative ties with other cities like London. I hope that Like Minds, through the use of social media, can start to beak the barriers down even further and bring us all closer together.

Exeter has an enormous amount of talent to offer, evidenced by many of the local participants at Like Minds. I hope that what Scott and I have created, with you and for you, helps you all in your chosen profession and life path.

After all YOU made it happen. To quote Scott on the day; we’re nobody. 😉

PS: Check out what Christina Warren at Mashable had to say about Olivier Banchard, one of our keynote speakers here.

Like Minds

Advertising, Blogging, Business, Devon, Entrepreneur, London, Micro Blogging, New Media, Social Media, Twitter, WebTV

On October 16th I’m co-hosting an event called Like Minds in Exeter, Devon with Scott Gould.

The conference will focus on sustainable social media and social media ROI, answering such questions as:

  • How to measure social media ROI
  • How to carry out online campaigns to compliment offline marketing mix
  • How to target online audiences, and best engage current customers and new customers
  • How to turn customers into brand advocates through social media

Come and meet some of the most informed social media experts from Exeter, London, and the USA. Discover how to get a positive return on investment by using social media to grow your brand and your business. It will be a fun, informative afternoon and give you the chance to increase your network and meet some Like Minds.

Follow the link here for more information.

Visit to Heather Jansch’s Studio

Art, Contemporary Art, Design, Devon, Sculpture

It was a misty start to the August Bank Holiday Sunday but we were determined to get out into the countryside and do something. The weather can be very changeable in Devon! The scultptress Heather Jansch happened to have her studio and grounds open under the National Gardens Scheme that day. She was an artist I’d been aware of for a few years so we took off as it was only down the road from us in Olchard to discover more.

What we experienced was an amazing, creative and stimulating visit. From the gate we walked down a long tree lined drive with a wide grass verge on the left had side mown into a continuous snaking pattern for its whole length. The house had a display studio on the side of it with a stunning view through some floor to ceiling doors into the wooded valley below. Outside there was a separate studio / workshop opposite where some more of her work was on display.

If you haven’t seen it before take a look here. The reclaimed wood that Heather works in was dotted around the entire site leaning up against the workshop walls, stacked in a lean to – all open to the elements to help it bleach and take on the weathered patina that is such a strong feature in her work.

Aside from the horses, stags, piglets (!) and other sculptures in the garden she’d created the most amazing arches, linking hand built wooden walls of stacked logs to the wild hedges. Worn, weathered, twisted branches retrived from local rivers and the sea were bound in with hazel and oak from the garden arching over each other to form very natural looking fluid shapes.

As we wandered down the hill into the valley we came across little sitting areas created by a circle of mulched leaves and wood chippings with old wooden benches and seats set onto them, found from the local re-claimation centre. We sat here for a while as each seat had it’s own particular view across the valley through the branches and watched the mist come down through the trees.

After the circular walk through this magical landscape, which took us past the stream in the bottom of the valley and back up through more woods sprinkled with smaller sculptures (including a bear), we sat in the gazebo with a hot mug of tea watching the windfalls from the apple trees and the fish darting around the pond below us.

A glorious and unexpected gem. So much so we’re going back again for the open studio this weekend with our youngest before she starts her A level art on Thursday. If you’re in the area it’s open from 10am – 5pm from September 5th – 20th 2009.

These are amazing shoes!

Devon, Sailing

I came across these via Tim Ferris. They looked so amazing I went straight to their website to check them out. They look perfect for all forms of water sports and the beach. Great for us down in Devon this summer with the added benefit of building strength in your feet. Here’s a brief introduction taken from their homepage.

“Remember going barefoot as a child? It’s the way you first discovered and conquered your world—without the constraint of shoes. Or the sense of duty you acquired later on.

Now you can experience that same physical and visceral sensation in Vibram FiveFingers—the footwear to offer the exhilarating joy of going barefoot with the protection and sure-footed grip of a Vibram® sole. FiveFingers footwear connects you to the earth and your surroundings in a way that is simply not possible in conventional shoes.

They put you in touch with the earth beneath your feet and liberates you to move in a more natural, healthy way. FiveFingers stimulate the muscles in your feet and lower legs to build strength and improve range of motion.”

I’m looking forward to testing them out!

Stephen Fry Apple Store Talk

Blogging, Devon, London, New Media, One Alfred Place, Social Media, Twitter

I arrived at Paddington station on my usual Monday 9.30 from Newton Abbot to find London had ground to a halt. A wonderful winter wonderland – unless you lived south of the river and were trying to get into town. As a result the Stephen Fry talk at the Apple Store was postponed as was the Tuesday night WebTV DrinkUp sponsored by our friends at Videoplaza.com.

This of course worked out well for me as the Fry talk was re-arranged for the Tuesday night. I left One Alfred Place and braved the icy winds blowing down Oxford Street and was amazed to be able to walk straight in at 6.30pm! I guess many who made it into work that day decided not to risk the potential train fail that evening and called it an early night.

Mr. Fry was impressive. Not only entertaining an audience of around 150, mainly 20-30yr olds, with an encyclopedic knowledge of computing history but sharing many personal stories along the way. One that particularly stood out was allegedly showing Peter Mandelson his first website in 1997. 1997! Perhaps he was too busy swanning around on Yachts and in Greek Taverna’s before then…

He recounted numerous other stories which I won’t divulge as the Podcast is available here so you don’t need any spoilers from me. Though do listen out for my question “What Would Oscar Wilde have thought of Twitter?” which received an enthusiastic and somewhat detailed response. All in all it was an informative and amusing event, presented by a master of delivery and eloquence so do check it out.

He went on to party at Paramount with a coterie of fans but it all ended up rather pear shaped, with an ending that if it had been scripted you wouldn’t have believed it. Put it this way if you get invited there don’t take the lift.

What amused me even further was the hilarious and inspired viral marketing Tweet that went out to followers of a certain Aleksandr Orlov who posted a picture entitled “Me with Mr Stephen Fry in a lift. Stuck, stuck, stuck…” brillant but “simples”!

Design brought on to agenda at Davos

Design, Devon, London

It’s great that design has a voice at Davos this week. What with President Obama currently being lobbied for a Secretary for Arts & Culture (it’s hard to believe the US don’t already have this) maybe 2009 will be the year design finally gets the opportunity to flex it’s vocal chords.

But what is good design? At Davos, design critic and former Design Museum director Alice Rawsthorn will be curating two debates focused on design. The members of the panel will present one example of good design and one of bad design and discuss the reasons for their selection. Industrial designer Yves Béhar, founder of Fuse Project says he will compare two cars, the Hummer and the Smart car. He describes both models as ‘iconic’, but says the Hummer has ‘little insight into a changing world’.

However, I wonder if he’s been to Harrods recently. They have the coolest Hummer I’ve ever seen in the sports department. It runs on electricity, costs a little over £11K and has a range of around 70 miles on one charge. To me it’s a cross between the original Jeep but with that iconic Hummer grille. To the Americans it’s a golf cart. As I live in rural Devon I thought it might finally give me the upper hand over the farm tractors and sheep towing quad bikes that regularly stuff you into the Devon banks at speed.

Sadly Mrs E. hustled me out of there pronto when she saw me so glassy eyed and slack jawed…I dare not tell the kids or it could be a very expensive Christmas ’09.